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Android, iOS dominate with 96 percent of smartphone shipments in Q4 2013

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The Android / iOS duopoly maintained its dominance over the global smartphone market in Q4 of 2013, IDC reported on Wednesday. The rival smartphone platforms accounted for 95.7 percent of all smartphone shipments, worldwide, in Q4 2013, and for 93.8 percent of all smartphone shipments for the entire year.

Breaking it down between the two different OSes, Android ended the year in the same position it began 2013 at: no. 1, the undisputed leader in the smartphone platform war. Samsung was the king among Android OEMs, with a 39.5 percent share of shipments for the year.

The also-rans in the category include Huawei, LG, Lenovo, Coolpad, and Sony. If Lenovo manages to complete its acquisition of Motorola Mobility, the combined company will leapfrog over Huawei and become the no. 2 Android vendor in the world.

Meanwhile, iOS posted the lowest positive growth for both the quarter (6.7 percent) and the year (12.9 percent), while Windows Phone posted the largest increase for both the quarter (46.7 percent) and the year (90.9 percent). Nokia easily bested all other WP vendors with 89.3 percent market share, which explains why Microsoft is acquiring the company (if you needed a reason).

BlackBerry was the only mobile platform to sink year-over-year, both for the quarter (-77.0 percent) and the year (-40.9 percent). However, it managed to keep a 0.6 percent market share globally, which was better than the zero percent of U.S. activations that was reported by CIRP, earlier.

One interesting factoid was that the sub-$200 smartphone market grew to nearly half, or 42.6 percent of global volume. Customers are moving to lower-cost handsets, and that's a market segment that Apple has not addressed. Meanwhile, Samsung has made hay with its strategy.

Ryan Reith, Program Director with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, said:

While the market moves downstream to cheaper products it makes sense for Samsung and others to continue their marketing investments geared toward high-end products. These efforts build crucial brand perception while having less expensive alternatives that closely relate to these top products helps to close the deal.

Samsung has done exactly this with the "Galaxy" line. The family name is associated with Samsung's high-end products, yet there are "Galaxy" variants offered by Samsung at much lower price points than the Note 3 and S4. This has been an important factor in how Samsung has sustained its market lead.

Apple is expected to release a larger-screened iPhone in 2014, but after last year's expectations of a "truly" low cost iPhone, which were dashed upon intro of the iPhone 5c, it would seem doubtful that Apple would move away from its high-mid to high-end market segment.

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